Biohackers and brain implants?
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM September 2014
    I'm just curious if it's even feasible for biohackers to develop brain implants (like an exocortex). Personally I think it would be feasible; the bio-proofing would be a fair bit tricky as would the cooling and size of the implant. But the biggest problem that I see is actually getting it implanted (and safely); the brain is a obviously a very complicated organ and with that said you would need to know exactly where it's supposed to go and how it's supposed to attach and not only that you would need to find a neurosurgeon able/willing to implant it (which I don't even think medical tourism can help with this). I know I probably sound like a foolish sci-fi buff or something but I'm just really curious about this as brain implants are the only type of implants I've really been interested in (besides the Circada and RFID tags) and I would very much appreciate constructive criticism and advice.
  • dezie_mmdezie_mm September 2014
    What would be the purpose of such implant?
  • AmmonRaAmmonRa September 2014
    it is _possible_, but I think it's way beyond any of our abilities. but apart from the fact that we don't have the skills or resources to do it, brain implants are truly cutting edge stuff, even the military and academics are only able to make very limited brain implants.

    I think brain implants are decades away at best. but that's not a reason to give up on it, it just means it's a very big job, I too want them more than anything else, and am working towards that as my long term goal.
  • dezie_mmdezie_mm September 2014
    Kevin Warwick is working on some cerebral implant that will allow "brain to brain" communication.
  • AmmonRaAmmonRa September 2014
    @dezie_mm link? more info? I really want to know more about this
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM September 2014
    The Wikipedia article on exocortices. It's essentially like having a personal computer connected to your brain. Recently i've been tearing apart broken smartphones people have been giving me as way to figure out how to make something compact yet very powerful that could be built. The main problems i've been having are with cooling, power, and all the delicate brain issues and the legality.
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM September 2014
    @AmmonRa Have you been doing any experimenting/work recently?
  • dezie_mmdezie_mm September 2014
    https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z8HeFNJjuj0

     @AmmonRa Skip to 14:00, he starts talking about it again at 20:20
  • dezie_mmdezie_mm September 2014
     
  • AmmonRaAmmonRa September 2014
    @LeslieJM yes, I've been testing a new implant in myself, I'm working with others (@cassox + @glims) to make it safe and manufacturer enough for others to have it too. I'm also working with @kjwx to get another new implant ready for prime time.  and more.. but all the details are private right now, you should see results within a few months.

    But none of those are related to brain implants. that's where my MEA project comes in, while it's only meant for the peripheral nervous system, it's a first step in the direction of brain implants.
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM September 2014
    @AmmonRa What does the implant do?
  • AmmonRaAmmonRa September 2014
    @LeslieJM sorry, as I said, details are private until I'm ready to release it.
  • ShaedlaerShaedlaer September 2014
    Brain implants technology in general is possible, and quite probably for biohackers too. There are a few big problems though.

    1. There's quite a little space on the skull, and vital parts all around the place. Wherever you go you're just millimeters from vital nerves, blood vessels, or brain, which means two things - very little space for the implant without risking compromising something, and that in case of infection, inflammation or toxicity, the process can spread to something vital momentarily.

    2. That means any implants have to be twice as safe - they _can't_ leak, break and otherwise fail with their bioproofing or bad things could happen, so this probably means you'd need to pay a company that actually has a technology for safe implants and biocompatible materials to make one that won't mess you up.

    3. That also means you really need a skilled surgeon, a real anaesthesiologist and real operating theatre as well as whole professional medical care after implantation with neurological checkups, antibiotic cover and quite a few other things. No grinding, no home brewed methods.

    As a medical doctor, even though I'm huge biohacking fan, I'd never let anyone anywhere near my brain. Meningitis, brain infections, partial face paralysis and eyeloss are serious points on my 'don't have them' list.

    On the other hand if someone were to go with transcranial stimulation with EM field (implant -> brain) and EEG (brain -> implant) technology, or a few other imaginable options that don't require placing the implant directly on/inside of one's brain, it's much more doable, even if still size and overheating problems would be serious...
  • bciuserbciuser March 2015
    Hello!

    So this is actually exactly my area of interest, and I currently work in a lab that is developing a fully implantable brain-computer interface for people afflicted with Spinal Cord Injury. My personal research career will be focused ultimately on the development of an exocortex, though this will likely end up being a side-project seeing as how funding really doesn't exist for the development of this type of thing. 

    Other than the issues brought up by Shaedlaer,which are all definitely on-point, there exist a few major hurdles that need to be overcome before such a thing can be developed. First, there currently exists no reliable feedback mechanism to induce specific feelings in the brain. We just don't really know how to shove information into a person's brain. Second, the extraction speed of information directly from the brain is currently pretty limited. We can extract data via brain-computer interface at the equivalent of roughly 1 word every 10 seconds (http://arxiv.org/pdf/1212.0469.pdf).
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire March 2015
    Also, from memory Kevin Warwick is doing brain-to-brain communication via implanting on peripheral nerves on the arms (he did that with his wife), so there's no brain implantation there either.

    Transcranial DC stimulation is the closest thing that average joes like you and me can achieve, methinks.
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    Icarus Industries is working on an implant that is inserted into your motor cortex. Essentially it works to allow you to move and react much faster, in a similar way to reflex actions. 

    We are actually after test subjects if anyone is interested?
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM March 2015
    @griskard I'm interested as long as it's completely safe. @bciuser I'm also available if you need any testers too but again; only if you're completely sure it's safe.
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    It is completely safe, it essentially just overrides your voluntary movement controls by stunning that section of the brain with a small current, leaving you with only involuntary movements.
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM March 2015
    @griskard What about the procedure?
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    Its very similar to subdermal implants, you essentially just open up the skull, then carefully, without cutting, create a pocket in the brain. Then you push the implant in and replace the piece of skull you removed. You can reseal it by placing sugru over it, then stitching the skin back up...
  • DirectorXDirectorX March 2015
    Lolololol. Oh no, a pigeon on a chess board! What shall become of us?

    Dbs is exactly like a Jack o lantern. Everyone should do it real quick and post it to YouTube.
  • WELP, that just killed any interest I had in the implantable watch thread.
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    I'd like to thank ThomasEgi for the idea xD.

    Seriously though, don't mess with your brain...
  • chironexchironex March 2015
    Ya... So for those less well versed in BRAIN SURGERY, lets do a quick bit of explaining here. What griskard has just suggested would not only kill you, but is not even remotely close to reality. how you create a pocket without cutting, i'm not even sure but blunt trauma to the brain is not ok. Also no one, unless you are a trained neurosurgeon should be going anywhere near someone else's brain. Very few people on this board are qualified for it. Sugru, a plastic like modelling clay, which has never and should never be used for surgery, implantation or wound closure.
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM March 2015
    @Griskard I take it you're just screwing around?
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    Yes, just to make sure no one actually believes that, I was just screwing around. I hoped the mention of sugru would put that beyond doubt, but just in case anyone thought I was for real about that, it was most definitely a troll. Please do not touch your brain, it's a terrible idea...
  • chironexchironex March 2015
    Ok just had to make sure since there are some people who wouldn't realize that that is horrifyingly dangerous and may try it. 
  • Maybe it's just me, but trolling like that is really quite counterproductive on a whole new level...when talking about serious stuff with people who take this shit seriously and are trying to make it happen, it just undermines any credibility or confidence you might have had.
  • chironexchironex March 2015
    Seconded.
  • GriskardGriskard March 2015
    I must say I'm very sorry, I certainly did not mean to cause offence and had no idea it would be taken quite so badly. If misinformation/disrepute is the issue perhaps we should delete my comments and the responses?
  • DirectorXDirectorX March 2015
    Too late, I just labotomized myself. I blame @Griskard. ;)
  • IvoTheSquireIvoTheSquire March 2015
    Funny thing, transorbital lobotomy is one that even layman can do... Which is one of what made it horrifying when it was done back in the day (so don't try it, damn it!).
  • The other big barrier to this- possibly the larger barrier- is DSP. AFAIK, we don't have the knowledge or technology to really interface directly with the brain in any meaningful way, aside from nerve stimulation like magnet implants. Even then, there is a significant learning curve. The best analog we have is the military-funded E'lectRx program, which aims to create a tiny neuromodulation implant which could be used to aid healing, and treat things like PTSD and bipolar disorder. And that is most closely akin to electroconvulsive therapy, rather than real digital signal processing. That, and the speed of modern, available computers at the scale necessary for implants, especially considering data transmission speed, are more of a problem than the surgery- although DIY trepanning is definitely not in your best interests. Once neural net and nonbinary computing becomes more functional and prevalent, we'll have a better chance of it.
  • DirectorXDirectorX March 2015
    Alright, I wrote about this a long time ago, but here is the short version (painfully oversimplified):

    A leadless DBS unit costs under $10 in materials, but that thing has to be really clean. Alternatively, you can gather up some old pacemakers if you don't mind the old school DBS units where the wires actually go into your brain. I'm not sure if pacemakers and DBSs are firing the same voltages, but it can possibly be reconfigured to DBS specs and then you have a device for negligible cost. Mortuaries are a good source for these according to our Colorado friend who detailed sourcing them in another thread. Alternatively, @Saal can score you one for a price well below retail.

    The procedure is expensive in the US (probably over 50k now) but it is actually an outpatient procedure. You have to stay awake during the entire thing. All you get is a local anesthetic in the scalp, but the brain feels no pain so no worries there. Anyhow, Russian brain surgeons make around $50k usd annually if I recall. Find 50 buddies willing to plop down $2000 bucks each and you can hire a salaried surgeon plus a swarm of nurses for an entire year. Hooray! The group buy suddenly makes DBS affordable.

    Again, this is over simplified, but the point is that it can be done and all kinds of crazy shit can happen on the cheap if you really want it to.

  • SaalSaal March 2015
    I gots clean lead hookups too, platiniridium designed for use with kinetra DBS.
  • bciuserbciuser April 2015
    So based on current technology and the lack of research that's been done in this area I would say a bi-directional brain-computer interface that actually has some functional use for healthy individuals is pretty far away (20+ years if I had to pull a number out of my ass) from being feasible. However, I'm currently in contact with Dr. Fetz at the University of Pittsburg who has done very simple bi-direction BCI implants in primates (you can look up the article it's called "Long-term motor cortex plasticity induced by an electronic neural implant") about doing one of the basic experiments that needs to be done prior to developing such a bi-directional BCI. He thinks the general idea is feasible, and should just be a matter of proper timing. I would love some input and help with specifics on the research, but this will likely be done at my university soon or when I get to graduate school, depending on whether I can get a professor to work with me and some grant or department funding. Here's my project idea:

    In order to eventually develop a brain-computer interface capable of communicating abstract concepts to humans, we need to first see if we can create recognizable artificial circuits in the brain that can be learned to correlate with something in the real world. Let's say I stimulate your brain in a certain way, and to you the resulting feeling is somewhere in between the smell of a hamburger and the color green. Weird, but recognizable. Now I can tell you every time you feel this it means "true", and you then learn to correlate the idea of truth with the stimulus you receive. Because neuroplasticity is damn cool, the two will correlate more and more strongly, until the feeling of truth is inseparable, or at least reminds you of, the feeling we have induced. But how do we do this? Let's start with something easy, an animal analogue. Let's induce some arbitrary neural stimulation sequence of X neurons using a number of microelectrodes, and then immediately afterwards induce pain via electric shock. IF the neural pattern is recognizable, the stimulus alone should eventually elicit a stress response, which we should be able to recognize. A note on why this is necessary: currently we only really have access to neurons on the surface of the brain, so while ideally we would just replicate a certain neural circuit through stimulation we will probably have to correlate it to one we can induce on the surface.

    If anyone is interesting in collaborating on this specific project or the development of an Exocortex more generally PM me or post below. If not, I'll keep y'all appraised on my progress should anything significant happen. Disclaimer: this research is going to likely take years, and anything I develop now is a long way away from human application. There are quite a few experiments that have to be done first (and thought of before they are done). However, this is going to be my primary research aim until a working device is finished, so it's only a matter of time (a long-ass fucking time). Brains are powerful things.
  • AlexSmithAlexSmith April 2015
    @bciuser I am absolutely interested in working with you toward this goal. 

    With regard to this experiment, hasn't this kind of thing already been done?
  • bciuserbciuser April 2015
    @AlexSmith as far as I'm aware this specific experiment has not been done in vivo, but I'm continuing to look (it's how I found Dr. Fetz's article), and his work is the closest thing I've found yet.
  • So, correct me if I've misunderstood, but basically, the purpose of finding these "circuits" is to produce a map for an interface? I'd be extremely interested in seeing whether or not there's any correlation between the configuration and location of the circuit producing a certain color for multiple individuals. Basically, whether or not we have to engineer a different interface configuration for each individual, or whether there are some "standards" in the development of the human brain.
  • bciuserbciuser April 2015
    Ultimately yes, if there are existing "circuits" that can be found they would be used as a map for this future interface, and if they do not exist in a usable way we would need to create some. I'd be interested in finding that out as well, my best guess is that there would be similarities but no two would be identical. Neuroplasticity is a pretty powerful thing.
  • V10latorV10lator April 2015
    @TheGreyKnight: The brain should be pretty standardized between all humans, else we couldn't read it and, sorry for going off-topic, doing cool stuff with it:
    -

  • ZlekratZlekrat April 2015
    Do you have any link to that neurohack thingy? Google shows so many things and i dont think any of them is what you are talking about
  • glimsglims April 2015
    Your referenced articles mention things that are much more minor than what you are claiming and most of the sentences in the papers themselves start with the word "if".

    Grams is an easily available search engine for the darknet. No DARPA clearance required. The guys from VICE even used it.

    EDIT: When claims are made or people ask for resources, please list the name or link to said resources. Journals if possible, and quotes are good too.
  • glimsglims April 2015
    Sure did. Of course, I also read the articles back when they came out as well, so that helps :)

    Looking forward to your updates on this.
  • LeslieJMLeslieJM April 2015
    @zombiegristle Thank you. @bciuser I would be interested in working with you. @acidrain Are you actually serious or just trolling?
  • bciuserbciuser April 2015
    Well, time to eat my hat. For all interested, here are some links to relevant articles published by Dr. Theodore and a link to his profile at USC. Time to go start prepping my grad school application to USC.:

    Still reading through all of them, will post additional information as I find it.
    As for subvocal recognition, that's an entirely muscular phenomenon that isn't relevant here, and as for uploading and receiving experiences from others I'm interested in what device you actually use, if it is in fact possible. Far as I know the equipment to do it would either be dangerous, expensive, or both.
  • glimsglims April 2015
    @bciuser, nice finds! Can I assume this means that there is more previous work done on the project you were referencing earlier than you previously thought? This sounds a lot like your jam, yo.

    @acidrain These forums do let you edit. Also, please start a new thread on BCI hacking. Exploring the risks in developing tech is how we learn. Outline things there.
  • ZlekratZlekrat April 2015
    how does it look like? when I search BCI device all pictures look like this. (You really caught my interest, I have been researching it ever since you mentioned something like this exists)image
  • I believe that bciuser meant that SVR relies on translating the movements of the larynx(I've done no research on SVR specifically. This is just the conclusion that logic and my knowledge of present-day tech have led me to). Excluding our good friend Haworth, I've not heard of ANY device that is capable of actively and accurately detecting multiple, complex neural impulses to muscles spread out all across the body, and then translating those to speech. The most we've done is use a few sensors in prosthetics, which detect impulses sent along the truncated nerves, triggering the appropriate servos. And even then, it's an on-off switch. 

    As for simulated reality, what did you mean? We're nowhere near the level of the stuff in the Matrix or Sword Art Online. At present, the electrode arrays used in retinal implants and cortical stimulation mapping simply aren't precise enough to allow us to properly introduce data into the brain. Further, we'd need multiple electrode arrays, or arrays with electrodes that extend to each relevant level of processing in order to produce a proper picture. The primary visual processing layer of the brain contains, at the very least, 4 different "layers", each dealing with a different area of sight(one provides contrast/movement recognition, one provides shape recognition, another adds color, etc). Simply laying an electrode array on the brain will only stimulate the outermost layer.

    One area I've been researching a lot lately is the remote stimulation of nerves through the use of electromagnetic radiation or magnetic fields. In the ER vein, I've found almost nothing. In terms of magnetic fields, the only thing I've found at present is Transcranial magnetic stimulation, and the technology really isn't precise enough at present (and it becomes less and less precise, the deeper into the brain you attempt to stimulate) to be of use. 

    - Edit - 
    After taking a cursory glance over a few articles, my hypothesis is proven correct, in that current SVR technology works by monitoring the movements of the vocal chords and the larynx through the use of electromyography. 
  • Would you kindly provide documentation of said augment, in the form of circuit diagrams, rough sketches, images of the device, and any research or related materials detailing its development?

    And it's an unconscious movement of the larynx and vocal chords. You think the word and they move, without any direction on your part. Hence the term, Sub-vocal recognition, because it's the underlying force behind speaking. Just add air, and reroute the flow across the vocal chords and larynx, and you've got speech. 

    If you've got a thought to text device, that's something totally different than SVR, and thus must be addressed as such. 

    You also dodged my question about simulated reality, so I'll ask it again. What did you mean by simulated reality? 
  • glimsglims April 2015
    Just a friendly reminder from the mods:
    Anyone making outrageous claims without proof, hijacking threads indefinitely, not backing up sources with journal papers or documentations, telling people to "just google it", or anything else of that sort, will be banned.

    We are a community of doers, not talkers. That is how we roll. 

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